UNC = Yankees/Red Sox or Royals/Pirates ???

January16/ 2000

…… Like a radio talker on Fridays, I’m asking you buddies and babes WHAT YOU THINK?  This UNC System brouhaha is getting messy and it’s not going away until the first game kick-off at least.  It touches some fundamental issues about “colleges” and the relationships twixt towns & gowns.  My questions for you will be a bit unfair.  So’s Life.

If you live on a paved road in NC you’ve read aplenty recently about this latest “They Are Doing WHAT …..?” as regards the UNC System.  If not you got an eyeful in my recent column about Erskine “Leonidas” Bowles and his occupational death wish to continue as UNC-GA President.  The majority of you reading this have some affiliation with a UNC system institution, many of you for many many years.

For non-UNC Systemites, your university is just one inquiring reporter away from a similar expose hitting you in your alma maternal solar plexus.  I will not presume how this expose has affected you.  The articles have been filled with provocative buzzwords and harsh insinuations.

Academia is a very different environment than anything most of us identify with.  Attempts to apply a corporate mindset, or what many call “just plain old common sense”, simply doesn’t work.  It never will.  Remember your first three jobs.  Other than 8 AM classes and 8 AM staff meetings both sux, how much real world application did you carry over from the classroom?

We all went to college because only the lazy, shiftless, and short bus riders did not go to college.  (In “downeast NC” one summer of croppin’ tobacco was the prime motivator for going to college.)  Some say the short bus riders did go to (fill in your choice of where they go).   Hopefully you grew up a notch or two over those four years and learned that turning your dirty underwear inside out only works once if that often.

Most of us take great pride in our respective alma maters.  When we read that “our school” ranks high in some academic ranking we beam with pride even if we have no clue what the ranking was based upon.  Ranking “high” is good.  Ranking “low” is not so good.  Ranking below our arch rival discounts the survey altogether as “obviously done by idiots”.

At issue now with the UNC System is the elaborate compensation packages currently in place for academic administrators and senior faculty.  The way the expose has been framed Crandall Bowles sent Erskine to bed without supper when she read it.  Every hardware store in the state immediately sold out of pitchforks and torches.  John Q Angry Taxpayer is having a MAJOR hizzy fit.

Your humble Internet Legend took a more insightful look at the gory charges being leveled at the Uni Admins.  I’ve never been high on a Uni Admin Champions list.  I share naught but a fondeness for tweed jackets with 94% of’em.  Hardly a column passes that I don’t thump’em on the head.  If disembowelment were legal I’d have Gene Nichol’s vital organs in jars in my utility shed.

But if you get a rush seeing your alma mammy’s name’s HIGH in those rankings you might rethink your position on this compensation expose.  Do you want your academic team to be an annual contender (Yankees, Red Sox, Lakers) or are you content to be a perennial non-contender (Royals, Pirates, Clippers, et al)?  That’s it.  Compete for championships or just field a team? 

Academic “talent” goes where it is appreciated just like top-producing car salesmen, computer geeks, shortstops and ski instructors.  “Appreciation” = “Well Compensated”.   One area where academia and corporate America ARE in sync.

    If you have a hard-wired negative stereotype of all college faculty as foppish fools and Assistant Vice Whatevers as even worse then its an easy call for you.  Hellfire, just fire the lot of’em and privatize the whole kit, kaboodle and campus to The Univ of Phoenix and be done with it.  If kids can find a way to “get drunk and get laid” on-line who needs college anyhow … right?

Keep the Football and Basketball programs ….. because we like them if they win a lot!.  The Univ of Phoenix can beam holograms of John Housman onto monitors and we don’t need no stinkin’ Assistant Vice Whatevers.

Those OHMYGAWD compensation packages are what they are in order to be competitive in the academic marketplace ….. which is as out of kilter as every other business / sports “marketplace”.  If UNC-GA cuts them back significantly then UNC institutions will see its best / brightest faculty stars go where they are better “appreciated”.  Some of you say “good riddance” ….. some of you say “oh my”.  I see both sides of the argument. This is NOT “just a Flagship issue”.  This effects all 16 campuses.

Missus and I had a delightful dinner last week with “the Erskine” of Missouri.  His university system ranks among the lowest in faculty/staff compensation.  The “brain drain” as a result is his biggest on-going issue.  He recanted numerous examples where he has lost a top professor or whizbang researcher because of outside offers they couldn’t refuse …. Then had to replace them with lesser talent at HIGHER market salaries than he was paying the recognized talent.  That’s what UNC could be facing in the very near future.

If you REALLY think a professor would turn down a $50,000 salary bump because Franklin Street has really neat bonfire pep rallies, you believe Dubyah somehow caused Hurricane Katrina.  (aka Carrboro Meteorology!)

Take a few minutes and share your thoughts on these questions.  Be wordy if you wish, or not.  I won’t share any one’s remarks with any one else.  I might give Erskine and Holden a composite report but nothing linking back to you in any way.  I definitely won’t share them with Robert Gibbs or any TeamObama operative!

1.    Are you an alum/fan with a UNC System institution?
2.    Do you think you’re up-to-speed on this compensation issue?
3.    Do you much care one way or the other?
4.    Do you trust Erskine as a competent UNC-GA President?
5.    Do you trust the BOG / BOTs to represent your interests?
6.    Does your alma mater’s academic “prestige” matter to you?
7.    Is sports about all you really care about at “your school”?
8.    Do you expect Academia to follow “real world” rules?
9.    Will this latest expose effect your “giving” to “your school”?

Speaking of polls ….. Squeeky Fromme won the “alone on a desert island with” poll in that Rick Pitino column.  Squeeky actually won going away.  I think it’s the “get it on with a Manson chick” fantasy that some have.  “Castrate myself with a sharp sea shell” was a write-in for 3rd place.


Mindy McCready claims philandering
with what infamous pro athlete?


   My new IPhone ringtone is My City Was Gone by The Pretenders.  I go into “hippie grocery stores” and have friends call me just to watch pointy heads explode.  You don’t recognize it?  Oh yes you do, you just know it by a more famous application.  Check it out on ITunes.  EVERY Lib recognizes it ……. KABOOM!   Life is good!
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